Monday, August 28, 2006

Smoking - really such a bad thing?

Man at Uitmarkt - three, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I was following a discussion on the guardian unlimited site to which my Mum referred me after the recent entry on airbrushing smoking from history and I came across an interesting discussion about what was the worst of man's inventions? The cigarette, as someone first claimed, or the motor car, as someone else responded?

Certainly both are very big killers. The cigarette keeps the hospitals full and nurses in employemnt.

The car is more functional but then it does do an awful lot of damage to the environment as well.. not to mention all the wars which are being fought and are going to be fought to ensure supplies.

But if we are going to go down that route, we might as well mention the aeroplane, which due to the fact that governements do not tax the fuel is a bigger contributor to global warming than the car (apparently). We are still left with the problems of war being fought over supplies, and what is more it is the aeroplane, in the form of fighters, which are used most often to conduct the wars, killing thousands from the sky with their scatter bombs.

However, I am not going to condemn the aeroplane when it has given me the chance to travel so widely around the world, quicker than would have been the case with boats and trains.

No, I think my prize for worst ever invention is the nuclear bomb, which has already been used to destroy two large cities and has the potential to kill all mankind and most other mammals and birds and so on. Of course, the probability is small, given the way we normally look at these things, but in trms of evolutionary timescales, the probabilities and risks are enormous.

Anyway, I have the feeling that we will see the back of smoking, certainly in public, way before we have dismantled all the nuclear weapons.

As I was out taking a few photos of people smoking during the past weekend, I realised that I was recording history, the history of a time when people lit up sticks of dried tobacco rolled in thin paper.... in public!

However, going back to the title of this blog and whether smoking tobacco is such a bad thing, I have been sent a link to an article from the early 1900's, which makes it very clear that the negative (and a few positive) effects of smoking were well known even then. The article even has the added bonus of placing the work of doctors and the medical profeesion in the context of Christian teaching.


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